Turning Resistance Into Results

push upEvery January I see them walk in.

The men and women who told themselves: “I can do this!”

They’re sporting brand new workout clothes, and are wearing fancy gym sneakers that have yet to be broken in. Water bottles in hand, they flock to the eight o’ clock spinning class lead by Helga, a platinum blonde transplant from Germany. Her voice is as muscular as her thighs.

As the newbies adjust their exercise bikes, the regulars look at each other knowingly. We’ve seen this sad ritual many times. Give it a few weeks, and it will all be over. 

BAILING OUT

February has barely begun, and half of the new recruits have already given up. “It wasn’t really my thing” they tell their friends with a faint smile. “But at least I tried, and that’s worth something, right?”

Luckily for them, they only paid for a trial membership. It’s the ultimate cop-out for those who can’t or won’t commit. How do I know?

A few years ago, I belonged to this group of dropouts, and I’m not proud of it. But last year I made a courageous comeback, and today I feel like I’m part of the LA Fitness furniture. To me, a gym workout is the ultimate stress-busting, fat-burning, energy-boosting experience. Here’s something else I discovered along the way.

The microcosm of the gym is a powerful metaphor for the real world. In fact, there are lots of parallels between my professional life as a voice-over, and what’s happening on the gym floor. Do you think this is a stretch? Let’s talk about machines!

1. The best equipment does not guarantee results. It’s how you use it that matters.

People hurt themselves on the gym floor all the time, because they don’t know how to use the equipment. They start lifting, pushing or pulling, without adjusting the machines first.

Willful ignorance leads to lack of results and could be damaging.

This is true in so many contexts. Whether you’re a professional photographer, a graphic designer, or a musician, you need good tools to get the job done. But owning a million-dollar violin means nothing if you don’t know how to play it well. 

In our tiny voice-over bubble, we love to talk gear. Some colleagues seem to be forever searching for the Holy Grail of microphones or preamps. What they’re currently using is perfectly fine, but somehow they think that getting that shiny new mic will give them a tremendous leg up over the competition. 

In my opinion, it’s much wiser to spend your money on a coach who can help you get the most out of your equipment and your performance. But how do you know which coach is right for you? 

2. Effective coaches are role models who practice what they preach.

Let me ask you a question. While you’re at the gym, would you want to be guided by an overweight, uninterested, uninspiring coach? 

Of course not!

I’m sorry to say that many “personal trainers” at my gym just seem to phone their sessions in. There’s no enthusiasm. No encouragement. No pride in the work they do. They’re merely going through the motions, counting the hours until their shift is over. Some seem way too young and inexperienced. That’s probably because they are.

The word “mentor” means “wise advisor.” It comes from the Greek noun “mentos” meaning “intent, purpose, spirit, and passion.” A great coach or mentor embodies all these notions. Wise people are much more than an experienced source of information. They know how to apply that information with purpose and with passion. And they’re not afraid to give you a hard time and hold you accountable for your progress, or lack thereof! Here’s why:

3. Resistance makes you stronger.

Fans of the diving board know that they need the resistance it offers to jump to the right height. In the gym, resistance training increases muscle strength by making the muscles work against a weight or force.  

If you’ve ever tried to get into shape, you know that you sometimes get to a point where you run up against the limits of what you believe is possible. Your body cries out: “no more,” and your mind tells you to quit. Those moments are critical. During those times you need to push through what feels uncomfortable in order to gain strength and grow. Otherwise you’ll always remain in your comfort zone and coast.

Success doesn’t come naturally to those who are always playing it safe. 

Now, as you’re reading these words, something in your personal or professional life may seem to work against you. This leaves you with a choice. You can see these moments as threats, or as opportunities. Obstacles can become stepping stones, although you might not directly see it that way. Here’s some good news.

At certain times you don’t necessarily need to feel discomfort to know it’s time to up your game and go to a higher level. Here’s my rule of thumb (and I use this in the gym as well):

If it becomes too easy, it’s time for a new challenge, and time to raise the bar.

There’s one last thing I learned from going to the gym:

4. Use others as your inspiration, but never as the measure of your success.

It’s human nature to contrast and compare. When I first entered the gym, I was a bit intimidated by all these lean bodies pumping iron. I wondered how long it would take me to get into shape. I had no desire to look like a bodybuilder, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more muscular definition, and a lower number on the scale.

Then I realized that these guys and gals were once just like me. Over time they developed a routine that worked for them, to get into the shape they wanted to be in. They made changes in their diet and lifestyle, and they had trainers who held them accountable.

Above all, they consistently kept coming, rain or shine. They used persistence and resistance in combination with the right equipment and the best mentors.

If they could do it, I could do it.

And I’ll tell you what:

If I can do it, you can do it!

There’s only one question:

How soon are you going to start?

Or will you be walking out the door within a month?

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Be sweet. Please retweet!

PPS Interested in working out? My colleague Rick Lance has published a series of “Fitness Tips from a 32 Year Fitness Novice.”
photo credit: Zac Aynsley Natural Fitness Models 1 via photopin (license)

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs." goo.gl/ihVpMc

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Personal

8 Responses to Turning Resistance Into Results

  1. Bill Johnston

    The Master of the Metaphor Strikes Again. You are amazing, Paul. I love the way you get right to the core of something and relate it to the real world in such a meaningful way.

    [Reply]

  2. Kent Ingram

    Hi, again, Paul: thanks for another great blog! I’ve trained in gyms of all kinds for 50 years, now. Like you, I’ve seen the New Year’s Resolution-ers come into the gym every January, with their grim determination to change their body into something unrealistic and unobtainable in just a few weeks. We could almost take bets on who would give up after a few weeks or a month. It was clearly a case of “I want it and I want it NOW”. Perseverance and commitment be damned! Unfortunately, this mindset leaks into their daily lives and careers and why so many starry-eyed people get into the VO world and get totally devastated when it doesn’t work out the way they wanted it to.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You’ve got it, Kent. A VO career is something for a crockpot, and not for a microwave.

    [Reply]

    Kent Ingram Reply:

    LOL!! That’s as good as it gets! May I “borrow” that one?

    [Reply]

  3. Rob Novak

    Paul, this is amazing. How did you know I needed this pep talk today? Tomorrow, after about a year and a half of doggy paddling in the shallow end of the VO pool I’m finally going to my first weekend workshop! After reading (nearly) all of yours and Courvo’s articles and watching Bill’s videos, and reading books and etc, etc, I’m taking action. I’m also at the end of my first week interning for a VO talent. I aim to make it to the end of my 10 weeks with a honed regimen to continue with and keep building my VO muscles. Thank you thank you thank you!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You’re are most welcome, Rob! You seem to be on the right track, and I wish you an exciting journey. You’re going to love it!

    [Reply]

  4. Justa_Guy

    Right this very moment, I am sitting on the couch reading facebook posts, waiting for the Ibuprofen to kick in. I should be in bed, sleeping, but the pain in my shoulder woke me up again.

    I used to hit the gym five or six days a week, for an hour or two at a time. Sadly, I’ve reached the point where Resistance, coupled with age results in a torn rotator cuff. Oh to be sixty again…

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Let me take your remark as an opportunity to reiterate my comment policy. This blog does not accept comments from people using a pseudonym or other type of concealed identity. I want my contributors to be accountable for what they say by revealing who they are.

    [Reply]

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